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How can you tell if you're getting a healthy plant?

Posted by mcr1968 (My Page) on
Mon, Aug 2, 10 at 9:57

My hubby and I stopped by Lowes yesterday to just "browse" through the garden center. We were not going to purchase anything, we were just going to "look". Well, that was before we got to the clearance racks. Everything was already marked with a clearance price and then there was a sign that said buy one get one free. Who could pass that up right? So, we purchased these:

2 Hosta Patriots
2 Hosta Fire and Ice
2 Ferns: 1 King Ostrich Fern & 1 Japanese Beech Fern
2 Stella D'Oro Daylilies
2 Salieri Daylilies

All for less than $15. The whole time we were shopping, we were pulling plants out of the pots to check the roots. Being newbie gardeners, we were not really sure what to look for, but they appeared to be ok. Some of the foliage on the Stellas were a little brown. The Hostas and ferns were fairly small.

So here's my question: I would like to go back and "browse" some more, but What do you look for/watch out for when purchasing potted plants...especially off of the clearance racks?

And just for fun, I browsed the net looking for a pic of the Salieri daylily. Keeping my fingers crossed that I will get to see this beauty in my garden next year:


Isn't she pretty?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: How can you tell if you're getting a healthy plant?

You can hardly go wrong with either of the daylilies. Especially Stella d'Oro; I don't think anyone has ever succeeded in killing one. With hosta, many people fear the dreaded HVX (like it's just lurking in hostas bought on sale from the Big Box stores!) Lots of information on HVX and pictures of what to look for on the internet - most times it's a false alarm.

Don't be alarmed if the Ostrich fern starts to get a little yellow and then really brown soon - that's just what Ostrich ferns do in August. I'm not familiar with the Japanese Beech fern.

RE: How can you tell if you're getting a healthy plant?

Thanks duluthinbloomz4. I was a little worried about the Ostrich fern when I purchased it. It did appear to be yellowing/browning a little:


But for $2, I figured I'd give it a shot. The Japanese beech fern still has a nice green color to it. Here's a pic of it:

I have had several online gardeners tell me that buying plants from the clearance racks after their growing/blooming season is over is one of the best/cheapest ways to get your gardens established. But when you're a newbie gardener standing there in front of a bunch of plants that look like their dying, you get a little intimidated. Other than checking for root-rot, I'm not real sure what is/isn't normal.

RE: How can you tell if you're getting a healthy plant?

The ferns look good. I second the above poster regarding HVX (hosta virus X) on the hostas. Buying them from big box stores comes with a strong chance of having the virus. Do some googling, or head over to the hosta forum.

RE: How can you tell if you're getting a healthy plant?

Although my comment on hosta and HVX and big box stores was meant to be somewhat tongue in cheek - it's always good to know a little bit about it before making hosta purchases from ANY SOURCE. Buying expensive hosta from reputable sellers is no absolute guarantee.

When you're just starting out putting a garden together, clearance racks of bargain plants is a good and reasonable way to go. And even the most seasoned gardener can't tell by looking at a plant (unless it's stone dead) whether or not it's going to make it through the winter or perform exactly the way it's supposed to.

That's part of the fun of gardening.

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